November 5, 2012
The Honorable Ray LaHood
Secretary of Transportation
Washington, DC 20590
Dear Secretary LaHood:
Please amend Federal Highway Administration Guidance for the CMAQ program to remove the three-year limitation on use of funds for intercity passenger rail operations. This request supports similar requests from States for Passenger Rail, Council of State Governments—Eastern Region, North Carolina DOT, Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority (Maine) and others.
Passenger train operations is the only CMAQ-eligible activity which is time-limited; the three-year limit was established administratively, not legislatively.
This change would give states and groups of states the flexibility envisioned in MAP-21, which reaffirmed the value of CMAQ. Such flexibility becomes even more important in light of the fact that, effective October 1, 2013, PRIIA Section 209 will be fully operational and force many states to increase their payments for Amtrak passenger trains.
Significantly, making the change we request would not change the distribution of funds, and would not mandate the use of CMAQ funds for passenger trains.
Thank you for your continuing support of passenger train development. We have greatly appreciated your appearances at our spring receptions on Capitol Hill this year and last. Most recently, we were honored that Deputy Federal Railroad Administrator Karen Hedlund addressed our national Council of Representatives meeting in Milwaukee on October 19.
Ross B. Capon
President & CEO